Hem…Using the Inseam Measurement

Several of my customers leave their pants to be hemmed on my porch without ever coming inside.

It’s because I hem their pants using their inseam measurement.

The inseam is the seam on the inner leg that runs from the crotch area to the hem edge of the pants.

Once I know what their inseam measurement is, they never have to try pants on for me again.

I just hem each pair of pants at that same length for that same customer.

This works well for men’s pants especially.

Men’s pants fit pretty uniformally across the board.

I’ll use the inseam measurement for some women too.

Women’s pants, however, can fit differently in the crotch area depending on the style and brand.

Some hang low in the crotch area and some don’t.

That can make for a variation in the inseam measurement.

Women’s pants also are known to have the intersection of the crotch and inseam sit forward towards the front of the pants and not sit evenly between the front and back. Does that make sense? It’s especially true if your pants have a stretch in the fabric.

Today I received a few pairs of men’s slacks for hemming.

This customer wants his pants hemmed with a 27 1/2″ inseam.

(Just so you know, that is a very short inseam. Most inseams are between 28″-36″)

There are two ways to find out what your inseam measurement is.

First, you can measure a pair of pants, of which the customer loves the length.

Second, you can measure their body (or your body, if you are hemming your own), from the crotch area to the point at which they want their hem to be.

For this example, I will show you how to measure the pants.

In this photo, you can see that I have laid the pants on the floor so that the inseam is showing from the intersection of the crotch area to the bottom of the pants:

inseam, hem using the inseam, #828

Here’s a close up view of that intersection of the two seams:

close up of inseam, hem using the inseam, #827

To get the inseam measurement, place a measuring tape at the point where the crotch seam and the inseams intersect:

close up with measuring tape, hem using the inseam, #829

Run the tape measure down the inside leg seam to the bottom of the pants. Whatever that measurement is, that’s your inseam.

Because my customer wants his pants to be at 27 1/2″, that is where I put a pin. The pin will mark that measurement:

place a pin to mark the hem, hem using the inseam, #831

Notice the current original hem. It is stitched in with top stitching with a sewing machine. I always try to duplicate the original hem when I put the new one in. In other words, if the original hem is stitched with a sewing machine, I use a sewing machine to put the new hem in. If it is stitched by hand, I usually stitch the new one in by hand. I also try to replicate the exact stitches and stitch length whenever possible.

First, I take out the original hem with a seam ripper:

rip out the old hem, hem using the inseam, #833

Take note that the original hem was folded up 1 1/2″:

measure old hem, he using the inseam, #832

Once you have taken out all the thread, spread out the entire hem so you can see all the way to the raw edge of the fabric.

If you measure from the fold of the original hem at the bottom of the pants, you’ll see that there is, in this case, 2 inches of fabric beyond that fold.

excess fabric of hem, hem using the inseam, #858

Measure from the folded edge to the folded edge (above).

That will tell you how much fabric to press up for the new hem.

Or you can measure from the original fold to the pin (below):

measure hem, hem using the inseam, #857

Press up that amount (in this case, I will press up 1 1/2″) all the way around the pant leg. Your original folds and stitches will probably not match up since you are putting in a new hem:

press up hem, hem using the inseam, #856

Then, measure out 2 inches from the new fold. Measure again and be sure everything is exactly how you want. Once you are sure of your measurements, trim off the excess:

measure out 2" and cut off excess, hem using inseam, #855

You’ll now fold up 1/2″. I know it is 1/2″ because I left 2 inches of extra fabric and my original hem was 1 1/2″ deep. So, 1/2″ is what’s left to turn under.

fold up 1/2", hem using the inseam, #854

Fold under the hem twice (once at the 1/2″ mark and again at 1 1/2″) and pin in place, matching the side seam lines:

fold hem up twice, hem using the inseam, #852

You don’t have to pin this hem in place. You can just stitch if you like and if you feel comfortable doing that.

If I do pin the slacks, I like to pin on the outside (right side) of the pants. This ensures that I can stitch a very even hem. If I stitch from the wrong side, my hem may not look as professional.

I place a pin at each side seam and one in the center front of the pant and one in the center back. Four pins is usually all I need to hold the hem in place well to stitch it.

place a pin at each side seam, hem using the inseam, #851

Then, top stitch the hem in place:

top stitch the hem, hem using the inseam, #847

This blog has all sorts of posts on different ways to hem garments on many different fabrics and for all sorts of occasions. Just click on “Alterations” above and then click on “Hemming”.